DIY Guide: Choosing Colours For Your Brand

 
 
brand colour guide choosing brand colours
 

When it comes to setting up a visual identity for your brand, it's so incredibly important to stay consistent. No matter what you put out into the world, maintaining consistency will help your audience tie things back to YOU.



What are some ways for you to brand your content? Of course your logo, your fonts, your language and your tones. But one of the easiest ways to get your audience to recognize you is choosing consistent colours.

When you can quickly reference a colour palette for your brand, it streamlines your whole content creation process. You can easily know which colours to use and where. When you show up using the same colours in your brand over and over, your audience will begin to make the connection between your brand and those colours.

Think about it. When you see this colour blue, what comes to mind?

facebook blue

Facebook?

facebook logo

What about these colours?

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 11.45.27 AM

McDonald's?

mcdonalds logo

People See Your Content in Passing.

We'd love to think our audience is spending hours a week just reading up our blogs, scanning our entire social media profiles and reading all of our website content. I know - your content is great, so why wouldn't they?

The reality is though, that our audience is just skimming the surface of what we put out there. It's not their fault. They're busy paying attention to their own lives.

If you can begin to brand your content with your colours (and fonts, logos, language...etc.) then you're making it a whole lot easier for those people to skim their newsfeeds and quickly make the reference back to you.

Have you ever tried to think back to "who on Earth posted that great article I saw yesterday?" You probably skimmed the content, thought it was great, wanted to go back to it and didn't even really pay attention to who posted it. Guilty? I am - all the time! But if that content had references back to a specific brand and was consistent, it'd be MUCH easier for me to remember, right? Right.

SO... let's get to it already.

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HOW TO BEGIN TO CHOOSE COLOURS FOR YOUR BRAND:

brand color palette

Above is Function's colour palette for reference as I walk through the next 5 steps.

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1. Start with a dark neutral for text.

What does that mean? Choose a dark grey, black (if you must...I find this to be very harsh and prefer a dark grey so that there's less contrast), dark navy, or some other dark colour that you'll use for any body text on your social media imagery, website, business cards...etc.

This needs to be a colour that's super legible against white or lighter backgrounds.

And neutral means that it needs to look good with any colour combination, so keep this simple. Don't overdo it or overthink it!

Function's dark neutral colour is this grey: #1e1e1e

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2. Choose a light neutral colour. 

This means choosing either a white, cream, ivory, beige, light grey, or something else that's neutral and super light.

I use a super light grey for Function Creative Co.(#dddfdd).

This colour will be used when you need a light background colour (to break up a website perhaps), or any other time your content may call for a light colour that's not necessarily white. I use this colour the least in my brand, but it still comes in handy.

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3. Choose a primary colour for your brand. 

No I don't mean a primary colour like we all learned in grade school. I mean a colour that will BE YOUR BRAND. This is the colour that when someone sees it, they'll think of you - at least that's the goal.

Take some time to research this because it'll be the colour you use most for any content you create.

Function uses a teal (#99d3c4) for it's main content. Any background colours, icon colours or buttons will likely be using this colour.

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4. [OPTIONAL] Choose a complimentary brand colour. 

Again, forget the grade school learnings here (sorry Mrs. Upton!). I'm talking about a colour that will compliment your primary colour and will be used for emphasis purposes. You can definitely go with the standard definition and find a colour that's opposite on the colour wheel, but it's not essential.

When you require something to be a call to action or need something to break up a website page, this will be when you will use your complimentary colour.

Function uses a pale yellow for this to juxtapose the teal (#fbf7c3).

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5. [Optional] Choose a final tertiary colour. 

Sprinkle this colour throughout your brand to give you some creative freedom and allow you to mix up colours on platforms that might have more flexibility. What I mean is, if you're designing your website and need to add in some versatility, you can throw in a tertiary colour to give you some differentiation.

Function sticks to its main colour system and my tertiary colour is just a paler and softer version of my main teal (#d9eae4). This drives home the consistency factor and gives me flexibility in my softer colour choices for things like background colours.


So now that you have a frame of reference, start to sort out how you want your brand to be represented. There are tons of colour psychology references available for you to skim and study if you want to make more educated colours choices.

Colour certainly has deeply rooted and inherent emotional reactions that are good to understand. Check out this infographic on colour psychology - I keep it bookmarked. 

Do your research (Pinterest is your BEST friend), poll your audience if you can, and get a consistent colour system in place for your brand. If you need some extra inspiration, I'm obsessed with colour palettes and have a giant Pinterest board for you to explore. 

>> Related: Want to work through the entire branding process? Read: Branding Checklist


The best place to start when you're trying to assess your brand is to narrow down exactly what you're business stands for, what you want to do with it, who you're trying to reach and how you're going to reach them.

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